Advice from a Poet, Novelist and Webmaster
The Highbridge Press published Kathryn Lively’s pro-life novel, Little Flowers, in May with good reviews. She is a now working on a mystery novel. Lively is in the HTML Writers Guild, the Catholic Writers Association(CWA) and the CWA webmaster.
Q. What advice would you give to persons wanting to become a writer?
A. The best writing advice I ever received came from one of my college professors: if you want to write, just write! I usually supplement this advice with some of my own, namely by advising people to find what works best for them in terms of writing. If a person is comfortable composing directly onto the computer keyboard, that person should write that way. If person is more comfortable either keeping a journal or writing drafts by hand, by all means he should do that. A person can not become a writer unless he makes the time to do it and then actually does it.
Q. You have written freelance articles for business magazines, what is the best way to get started as a freelance writer?
A. Find a topic that interests you and study the market. What sort of magazines or newspapers publish articles on this market? Are they willing to consider freelance work? Study the articles in these magazines; do your homework. The best tool for a freelance writer to have is a current edition of The Writer's Market. There a writer will find all the information he needs on the various magazines and newspaper markets, what sort of writing is sought and how to contact the individual editors and publishers.
Q. Is it best to just submit you articles to magazines or should one contact the editor first?
A. I learned a long time ago that just submitting an article to an editor who did not first ask for it is not the way to go. Most likely you will receive your submission back unopened. It is always prudent to contact an editor first. Editors have enough work to do without having to wade through unwanted mail.
Q. Your the webmaster of the Catholic Writers Association(CWA) as well as a member. Can your tell us about the CWA?
A. The CWA was formed around 1998 by a writer named Mark Kwasny. Mark wanted to establish an organization for Catholic writers faithful to the Magisterium to network and offer each other professional and spiritual support. I suppose he had noticed dissention in similar organizations with regards to Catholic teaching, and he wanted an organization that was true to the Church and Jesus Christ. I don't recall exactly how I became involved with the CWA; I remember seeing a notice early on in a Catholic mailing list, and I joined when membership was still quite small. I took over as webmaster about a year ago when Mark's schedule could no longer accommodate it.
Q. How can one benefit from the CWA?
A. As a member of the CWA one is connected to like-minded writers of all levels of experience. Our membership consists of people who published numerous books, as well as people just beginning to query publishers and editors. Through the CWA one may inquire more knowledgeable people about the Catholic periodicals markets or find somebody to peer edit work. More importantly, one finds spiritual support with the CWA, for we strive to keep all members in our prayers, that they may find success in their writing endeavors and that their writing will reflect the Good News of Christ.
Q. You recently wrote the pro-life novel Little Flowers for Highbridge Press. According to one reviewer you were sympathetic to those who go through the abortion struggle? What experiences have helped you in writing Little Flowers?
A. Writing Little Flowers, in a way, was therapy for me. Not only have I know people who have had abortions, I too was faced with a similar dilemma when I was young. Though I never have had an abortion, the situation I experienced helped me to understand what some people go through when faced with these kinds of decisions. Some of my acquaintances regretted their decision to abort, and I knew I had no right to judge them for their actions. Jesus tells us in Matthew to "judge not, that ye be not judged." This command was foremost in my mind when writing Little Flowers.
Q. Your book was published by a secular press. How did you get them to publish a pro-life Catholic book?
A. As it happened, the two women who run Highbridge Press were raised Catholic and identified easily with the story. I had already queried a number of Catholic presses, but many had ceased to publish fiction, and the few that did publish fiction turned down the book. Highbridge Press actually contacted me first to review one of their titles for a website I maintain, so I contacted them about my book. They asked to see it, and the rest is history.
Q. Your have a listing in various Who's Who publications. How did you get into Who's Who?
A. That happened in high school; I believe those kinds of organizations send application to everyone in the world hoping people will buy their books if they are listed. I have only one book, Who's Who in American High School Students, with my listing.
A. As book reviewer, what is your all time favorite book?
Q. This is a difficult question, because I just can't pick one book. I enjoy reading all sorts of books, but if I had to choose a favorite I would choose Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe because I love the book's style and characterization. It's one book I wouldn't mind reading more than once.
Q. What is your all time favorite Catholic book?
A. I love reading about the saints in particular, so I would have to say St Teresa's Interior Castle.
Q. As a poet who has been published, what guidance can you give aspiring poets?
A. Poetry is entirely a labor of love. Don't expect to get rich off of poetry unless you are somehow able to get a job as a creative writing professor. My advice to read the works of the great poets and get a feel for how they wrote, then to find your own voice.
Q. You have been published nationally in secular business magazines, what is your opinion on the current economic problems?
A. I believe right now we have to give the current administration time to help the country back to its feet. I believe what we are experiencing now is a backlash from the previous administration, just as Clinton's alleged success was drawn from the elder Bush's presidency. Above all else, pray for the country. It certainly wouldn't hurt.
Q. As a webmaster, do you think the internet is about to meet economic doom?
A. I work in the Internet industry, and not only have I've had to watch many "dot com" businesses fail, but I have also seen good friends lose their jobs. I don't think the Internet is doomed, however, but I believe the people who ran many of these failed business just did not plan very well. I believe the Internet, like any other industry, will experience cyclical growing pains. Once people are more comfortable and knowledgeable about the Internet, business will pick up again.
Q. Do you think the webs financial crisis will end in mutli-national corporations taking over the net? If ,yes, how will this effect the internet? If ,no, what will happen to the net?
A. I really don't know how to answer these questions, because it's so difficult to say. In recent years we saw major corporations align themselves with search technology (Disney buys Infoseek, NBC buys Snap), and we have seen these sites fail. I can't predict how other corporations will buy into the Internet. I suppose we'll have to wait and see who is willing to invest the capital.
Q. Your currently working on two mystery novels, to be titled Murder Most Trivial and Saints Preserve Us. Tell us about how you write mystery novels?
A. With Little Flowers, I just wrote off the top of my head, five pages a day longhand, until the first draft was completed. With mystery novels, the process is a bit more complex because the story must present the mystery (the crime) and lead the reader up to a plausible solution without giving too much away. For the two mysteries I have written, I outlined the story in full - chapter by chapter - and wrote the first sentence of each chapter. This way I was able to help myself in the writing process by giving myself a starting point for each chapter. It also helps, if one wishes to write mystery, to read mystery.
Q. As a married woman, do you find that it helps or hurts you writing?
A. In my case, it is a help, since my husband is a college professor with an English background. Since his work schedule is erratic, I schedule my writing around him, and sometimes when we go out for coffee I will take my notebook with me.
Q. You fell away from the Catholic faith for a while; what brought you back?
A. For a few years in college I was mired in some very unsavory practices. I think being away from home and falling under the influence of certain people helped this downward spiral. Eventually I realized how empty I felt, and I sought something to fill the void. Though I had left Jesus at one point, I realized He had never left me. It took the near death of my father to get me to return to the Church; I prayed for my father's safety with the promise that I would make a concerted effort to return to His good graces, and I continue to strive to keep that promise.
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Advice from a Poet, Novelist and Webmaster